2. Choose a company name

You must choose a name for your business if you’re setting up a private limited company.

There are different rules for sole traders and business partnerships.

Your name can’t be the same as another registered company’s name. If your name is too similar to another company’s name you may have to change it if someone makes a complaint.

Your name must usually end in either ‘Limited’ or ‘Ltd’. You can include the Welsh equivalents ‘Cyfyngedig’ and ‘Cyf’ instead if you registered the company in Wales.

‘Same as’ names

‘Same as’ names includes those where the only difference to an existing name is:

  • certain punctuation
  • certain special characters, for example the ‘plus’ sign
  • a word or character that’s similar in appearance or meaning to another from the existing name
  • a word or character used commonly in UK company names

Example

‘Hands UK Ltd’ and ‘Hand’s Ltd’ are the same as ‘Hands Ltd’.

You can only register a ‘same as’ name if:

  • your company is part of the same group as the company or Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) with the existing name
  • you have written confirmation that the company or LLP has no objection to your new name

You can read more guidance on naming your company if you’re not sure.

‘Too like’ names

You may have to change your name if someone complains and Companies House agrees it’s ‘too like’ a name registered before yours.

Example

‘Easy Electrics For You Ltd’ is the same as ‘EZ Electrix 4U Ltd’

Companies House will contact you if they think your name is too like another - and tell you what to do.

Other rules

Your company name can’t be offensive.

Your name also can’t contain a ‘sensitive’ word or expression, or suggest a connection with government or local authorities, unless you get permission.

Example

To use ‘Accredited’ in your company’s name, you need permission from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Check which words you need permission to use, and who from.

When you don’t have to use ‘limited’ in your name

You don’t have to use ‘limited’ in your name if your company is a registered charity or limited by guarantee and your articles of association say your company:

  • promotes or regulates commerce, art, science, education, religion, charity or any profession
  • can’t pay its shareholders, for example through dividends
  • requires each shareholder to contribute to company assets if it’s wound up during their membership, or within a year of them stopping being a shareholder

Trading names

You can trade using a different name to your registered name. This is known as a ‘business name’.

Business names must not:

  • include ‘limited’, ‘Ltd’, ‘limited liability partnership, ‘LLP’, ‘public limited company’ or ‘plc’
  • be the same as an existing trade mark
  • contain a ‘sensitive’ word or expression unless you get permission

You’ll need to register your name as a trade mark if you want to stop people from trading under your business name.

You can’t use another company’s trade mark as your business name.

Displaying your name

There are rules you must follow about displaying your company name.